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'The Happiness Fantasy' with Carl Cederstrom
Wednesday 23rd January, 7pm
Read more...

'Rethinking Racial Capitalism' with Gargi Bhattacharyya
Wednesday 30th January, 7pm
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AUTONOMY NOW Present: ‘Anarchism, Syndicalism and the Amsterdam Congress of 1907’
with Anthony Zurbrugg
and Carl Levi
Thursday 31st January, 7pm
Read more...

Authentocracy: Joe Kennedy & Juliet Jacques in conversation
Wednesday 13th February, 7pm
Read more...

Rock Against Racism and the Anit-Nazi League with David Renton and Ruth Gregory
Wednesday 27th February, 7pm
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IN-STORE EVENTS at HOUSMANS

We regularly have a variety of events in the shop, and are always welcome for suggestions from authors, artists and campaigners who want to use the shop for evening events. Past events include talks, book signings, film screenings, art exhibitions and musical performances.

Click here for an archive; which includes a number of selected filmed highlights, of our previous events. Also, you can view video from some special events here.

'The Happiness Fantasy' with Carl Cederstrom
Wednesday 23rd January, 7pm
Entry £3 redeemable against any purchase


In this witty new book, Carl Cederström traces our present-day conception of happiness from its roots in early-twentieth-century European psychiatry, to the Beat generation, to Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. He argues that happiness is now defined by a desire to be "authentic", to experience physical pleasure, and to cultivate a quirky individuality. But over the last fifty years, these once-revolutionary ideas have been co-opted by corporations and advertisers, pushing us to live lives that are increasingly unfulfilling, insecure and narcissistic.

In an age of increasing austerity and social division, Cederström argues that a radical new dream of happiness is gathering pace. There is a vision of the good life which promotes deeper engagement with the world and our place within it, over the individualism and hedonism of previous generations. Guided by this more egalitarian worldview, we can reinvent ourselves and our societies.

Reviews

"Happiness is big business - and big politics - these days. But as Cederstrom shows in this sharp and engaging book, its recent history can be disturbing. Combining humor with a much-needed skepticism, he shows that in a world of happiness, not all is smiles."
Darrin M. McMahon, author of Happiness: A History

"In this lively and acerbic book, Carl Cederstrom provides a compelling history of how a particular psychoanalytic ideal of happiness sucked us in, promising total fulfillment but ultimately trapping us in a lie."
Will Davies, Goldsmiths, University of London

"Pleasure was at the heart of the liberation struggles of the 1960s' but has morphed into a new form of ideology and tyranny, fed by the capitalist logic of incessant consumption. The happy self is not only a fantasy, an imperative to fulfill our potential, but also the impulse behind a wide variety of economic enterprises, orgasmic workshops, drugs, therapies, etc. Cedertrom's The Happiness Fantasy is a well-written, lively, and critical study of the fantasy that has wormed inside the core of our culture."
Eva Illouz, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

"A wonderful piece of work."
Simon Critchley, New School for Social Research

"With compelling clarity, wit and wisdom, Carl Cederström cuts through the disabling illusions ceaselessly promoting the personal pursuit of happiness, offering instead an altogether richer, more compassionate, embrace of life and its vicissitudes."
Lynne Segal, author of Radical Happiness: Moments of Collective Joy

About the Author

Carl Cederstrom is Assistant Professor at Stockholm University

 

'Rethinking Racial Capitalism' with Gargi Bhattacharyya
Wednesday 30th January, 7pm
Entry £3 redeemable against any purchase

How has capitalism created or enhanced racism? In what ways do the violent histories of slavery and empire continue to influence the allocation of global resources?

Rethinking Racial Capitalism: Questions of Reproduction and Survival proposes a return to analyses of racial capitalism – the capitalism that is inextricably linked with histories of racist expropriation – and argues that it is only by tracking the interconnections between changing modes of capitalism and racism that we can hope to address the most urgent challenges of social injustice.

It considers the continuing impact of global histories of racist expropriation on more recent articulations of capitalism, with a particular focus on the practices of racial capitalism, the continuing impact of uneven development, territory and border-marking, the place of reproductive labour in sustaining racial capitalism, the marketing of diversity as a consumer pleasure and the creation of supposedly 'surplus' populations.

Review

Full of intellectual energy and wit, Rethinking Racial Capitalism is a fascinating account of the entanglements between capitalism and racism, from the proliferation of territorial borders, to reparations and indebtedness. Fulfilling her promise of descriptive analysis, Bhattacharyya's storytelling is rich, alert, vibrant. Capitalism's allure appears as a hot bath, a teenage outfit, the opening of a menu. I didn't want the book to end.--Yasmin Gunaratnam, Reader in Sociology at Goldsmiths University of London, UK

An acutely observed, innovative and thought-provoking study of the articulation of racism with the development of capitalism. Replete with intersectional insights, it extends contemporary debate through a feminist lens. Careful socio-economic and political analysis is complemented with attention to issues of affect such as the trans-generational carryover of trauma. An excellent combination of analytical rigour with political acumen and compassion. A must-read for anyone concerned about the effects of racial capitalism.--Avtar Brah, Professor Emerita of Sociology, Birkbeck College, University of London

To read Gargi Bhattacharyya is always enlightening: she teaches how to think, not just what to think; she engages her readers as citizens, not just professors; and she grounds her scholarship in movements for liberation. Rethinking Racial Capitalism will transform our understanding of one of the key issues of the day - how capitalism and racism work together.--Arun Kundnani, New York University

About the Author

Gargi Bhattacharyya is Professor of Sociology at the Centre For Migration, Refugees and Belonging, University of East London, UK

AUTONOMY NOW Present:
‘Anarchism, Syndicalism and the Amsterdam Congress of 1907’
with Anthony Zurbrugg
and Carl Levi
Thursday 31st January, 7pm
Free Entry


The Amsterdam Anarchist Congress of 1907 was a unique occasion for libertarians to meet and discuss. It gathered delegates from 14 different countries, among which important figures of the anarchist movement, including Errico Malatesta, Luigi Fabbri, Benoît Broutchoux, Pierre Monatte, Amédée Dunois, Emma Goldman, Rudolf Rocker, and Christiaan Cornelissen.

Various themes were treated during the Congress, in particular concerning the organization of the anarchist movement and syndicalism. Other issues included popular education, the role of the general strike, and anti-militarism– an International Antimilitarist Congress simultaneously took place in Amsterdam. However, the most important debate concerned the relation between anarchism and syndicalism (or trade-unionism).

In France several libertarians were leading the French Labour Confederation the CGT: did they offer a new and better strategy? What opposition were they facing? Did libertarians offer an alternative to Social-Democracy and the growing threat of war?

Authentocracy: Joe Kennedy & Juliet Jacques in conversation
Wednesday 13th February, 7pm
Entry £3 redeemable against any purchase

Join Joe Kennedy and Juliet Jacques to discuss our obsession with authenticity, and the ways it has been instrumentalised politically.

We are entering, we are told, a post-liberal age. Authoritarian populism is in the ascendant, and permissiveness, multiculturalism and “identity politics” have allegedly failed us, meaning that we must now fall back on some idea of tradition. However, it’s not only the usual, conservative suspects who are making this argument, but centrist politicians who, at least notionally, are hostile to the likes of Donald Trump and UKIP.

“Authentocracy” is the populism of the centre, with a spurious concern for “real people” that’s part of a broader turn within British culture (as exemplified in the brute masculinity of Daniel Craig’s James Bond, the “progressive” patriotism of nature writing, and a televisual obsession with the World Wars), as it withdraws under the bad-faith supposition that there’s nowhere to go but backwards.

In their declaration that the Left can only save itself by becoming less liberal, in Authentocrats: Culture, Politics and the New Seriousness, Joe Kennedy charges liberals themselves with fuelling the post-liberal turn, and asks where the space might be found for an alternative.

About the speakers:

Joe Kennedy teaches English and Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex. He is the author of Games Without Frontiers (Repeater Books, 2016) and Authentocrats: Culture, Politics and the New Seriousness (Repeater Books, 2018).

Juliet Jacques is a writer and film-maker, whose most recent book was Trans: A Memoir (Verso, 2015). She is the host of Suite (212) on Resonance 104.4fm.

Rock Against Racism and the Anit-Nazi League -
with David Renton and Ruth Gregory

Wednesday 27th February, 7pm
Entry £3 redeemable against any purchase

Our guests discuss David's new book 'Never Again' which tells the story of the fascist National Front who were rampaging in the late 70s, and the campaigns which played such a key part in counteracting them.

By 1976, the National Front had become the fourth largest party in Britain. In a context of national decline, racism and fears that the country was collapsing into social unrest, the Front won 19 per cent of the vote in elections in Leicester and 100,000 votes in London.

In response, an anti-fascist campaign was born, which combined mass action to deprive the Front of public platforms with a mass cultural movement. Rock Against Racism brought punk and reggae bands together as a weapon against the right.

At Lewisham in August 1977, fighting between the far right and its opponents saw two hundred people arrested and fifty policemen injured. The press urged the state to ban two rival sets of dangerous extremists. But as the papers took sides, so did many others who determined to oppose the Front.

Through the Anti-Nazi League hundreds of thousands of people painted out racist graffiti, distributed leaflets and persuaded those around them to vote against the right. This combined movement was one of the biggest mass campaigns that Britain has ever seen.

Our guests discuss David's new book 'Never Again' which tells the story of the fascist National Front who were rampaging in the late 70s, and the campaigns which played such a key part in counteracting them.

About the speakers:

David Renton is a British barrister, historian and author. His previous books include Fascism: Theory and Practice (1999), Fascism, Anti-Fascism and Britain in the 1940s (2000), This Rough Game: Fascism and Anti-Fascism (2001), British Fascism, the Labour Movement and the State (2004, with Nigel Copsey) and When We Touched the Sky: The Anti-Nazi League 1977–1981 (2006).

Ruth Gregory was a member of the Rock Against Racism steering committee.


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